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  • Writer's pictureManalapan Spine Care

Are You Suffering with Frequent Headaches?

“Headache is pain in any region of the head. Headaches may occur on one or both sides of the head, be isolated to a certain location, radiate across the head from one point, or have a viselike quality.” (Mayo Clinic)

If you are suffering with migraine pain or frequent headaches, you are not alone. According to various studies (American Health Society, National Health Interview Service, National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, Global Burden of Diseases), migraine and severe headache statistics are startling.

  • Approximately 45 million Americans experience chronic headaches every year.

  • Headache is the fifth most common reason for emergency room visits (3% annually) in the US. For women of childbearing age, it is the third leading cause of an emergency room visit.

  • As many as 3 billion people globally are estimated to have a migraine or tension-type headache (2016).

Different Types of Headaches and Symptoms

Many people in Manalapan and the surrounding communities come to Manalapan Spine Care and Rehabilitation living with headaches - which include primary headaches (not associated with an underlying medical condition), secondary headaches (associated with an underlying medical condition - infection, injury, tumor, etc.) and cranial neuralgia/facial pain. With so many different types of headaches, working with an integrated healthcare team can often provide the relief sufferers are looking for.

Headache symptoms vary. Pain may be in different areas, such as the upper neck, above the eyes or ears, sinus cavity, as well as behind or top of the head. Other symptoms include:

  • Nausea/Vomiting

  • Light/Noise Sensitivity

  • Aura (prior to onset)

  • Dizziness/Vertigo

  • Scalp Tightness/Tenderness

If symptoms of slurred speech, confusion, arm/leg weakness, or numbness in the face occur, please seek immediate medical care.

What Causes Headaches?

The question many patients often ask is, “What causes headaches?” The answer varies:

  • Structural Imbalances: Poor posture, spinal misalignment, text neck

  • Muscular Imbalances

  • Nutritional Imbalances, Toxins, Dehydration, Alcohol, Caffeine (withdrawal)

  • Hormonal Imbalances (menstrual cycle, pregnancy)

  • Trauma (whiplash, head trauma)

  • Stress

  • Vision/Eye Strain

  • Sleep Disturbances/Changes

  • Medication, Medication Rebound

  • Environment

  • Smoking

  • Weather Changes

  • Existing/Underlying Health Conditions (Hypoglycemia)

  • Genetic Predisposition

Migraine pain and frequent headaches can take a toll of the patient, family members, friends, finances and hamper job performance. In addition, some patients may experience anxiety and depression. For this reason, it is vital to seek care from a headache doctor, nurse practitioner, chiropractor and/or physical therapist, who can help to identify the type of headache and provide headache remedies.

Primary or Secondary Headache?

Most headaches are classified as primary or secondary, of which over 90% of all headaches fall into the primary category. Primary headaches (the headache is the primary concern) include:

  • Tension (Stress or Muscle-Contraction): This is the most common primary headache, usually beginning during pre-teen or teenage years, affecting females more than males. It is often triggered by head and/or neck muscle strain, eye strain and/or stress. Pain varies (mild to moderate, dull to throbbing) and can be on one-side (unilateral) or occur on both sides of the head and neck (bilateral). It is described as a tight band of pressure around the head.

  • Migraine (Common and Classic): There are many theories as to the factors/triggers of migraines. They range from gender, genetics, age, stress, hormones, diet, medication, etc. Symptoms may begin in puberty or early 20s. Migraines are more common in women, perhaps due to hormonal changes. Those suffering with migraine pain may be sensitive to noise and/or light, and experience a throbbing pain usually on one side of the head, along with nausea and/or vomiting. For some, an aura or visual disturbance may precede the migraine. Pain can last for an hour or two, or as long as 3 - 4 days.

  • Cluster (Mini-Migraine, Histamine): A cluster headache is very rare (less than 0.1%). It usually begins as a young adult ( 20 - 30 years old), and affects more men than women. Pain is often experienced on one side - usually around the eye, and may recur several times a day - over days, weeks or months (occurs in cycles), until remission. Pain associated with a cluster headache is usually the most painful type of headache, often causing one to wake up in the middle of the night. While the cause is thought to be unknown, it may be related to factors that control blood flow.

  • Secondary headaches (associated with a medical condition) are far less common, comprising less than 10% of all headaches. Pain is often experienced in the sinus cavity and/or forehead, behind the eyes, along with possible fever, facial swelling and nasal discharge.

Headache Remedies

Those suffering with headaches, may start to experience symptoms as a young child, teenager or adult. Early treatment is vital - many headache remedies or treatment options are available.

  • Chiropractic Care: Patients find relief with chiropractic care that stems from mechanical factors or musculoskeletal conditions (poor posture, misalignments, TMJ and muscle tension). Chiropractic adjustments (spinal manipulation) help the body to heal and improve spinal function. Postural and ergonomic recommendations are provided to help maintain spinal balance and reduce recurrences.

  • Physical Therapy: Manual therapy, specific exercises - including strengthening and stretching, soft tissue mobilization and modalities (heat, ice) are powerful tools to help relieve headache pain.

  • Nutritional Counseling: Our Nurse Practitioner can help customize a healthy eating program, along with supplementation and hydration recommendations to address the chemical factors of headaches.

  • Therapeutic Massage: Discover the many benefits of therapeutic massage - helps to relax tense muscles and muscle spasms, as well as increase blood flow and promote relaxation.

  • Lifestyle Recommendations:

  1. Have your vision checked.

  2. Sleep on a “good” mattress, buy a new one if necessary.

  3. When sitting/standing for extended periods of time with your head and neck in a fixed position (in front of a computer, painting, gardening or reading), take a break and stretch every 30 - 60 minutes, if possible.

  4. Low-impact or moderate exercise (with your doctor’s approval) should be done most days.

  5. Relaxation Techniques

  6. Reduce/eliminate harmful habits (smoking cigarettes, excessive alcohol)

While there is a time and place for medication, alternative options should be considered. At Manalapan Spine Care and Rehabilitation, we focus on identifying the cause or triggers of each patient’s headache. For some, it may be a structural factor, for others a muscular or chemical factor, and some patients have a combination of factors. If you are seeking a headache doctor or headache remedies, please call (732) 972-5900 and schedule a free consultation. Let us help you find relief from frequent headaches.

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